Combining her accomplishments as a teacher, coach, therapist, mentor, sacred space holder and her admiration for women everywhere, Niki Moss Simpson launched SHINE. SPARKLE. RADIATE in 2017. In 2019 Niki became an international bestseller as co-author of the Pay It Forward series: Notes to My Younger Self and completed her 300 hour restorative yoga teacher training in India. In an exclusive article for MumAbroad Life, Niki talks about the mother-daughter dynamic.
Your mother birthed you into this world & in doing so, you both entered into your most crucial relationship ever; the mother-daughter relationship.
It is a relationship that will shape you and mould you not only as a woman, but also as a citizen of the world, as a friend and as a mother, should you choose to be.
As our first role models, mothers are our first influencers & this is what makes the relationship with our mother so crucial to our development.
If our own mother was never loved or never learned to love herself she may not be able to love us. If our mother was never nurtured, she may not be able to nurture us. If our mother was not helped to feel safe, she may not be able to help us feel safe. It all goes back to role modelling & our mother can only model what she learned as a girl herself & then as a woman.
& I know the joy, love & delight of my relationships with my mother and my daughter. Equally I know the pain, suffering, grief, disappointment & feelings of failure that come hand in hand with being a mother & a daughter.
I recently had the great honour & privilege of caring for my mother in her last few months of life after she was sadly diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma in March 2020. We had only spent short periods of time together in the last 10 years or so after I moved to Switzerland with my family, then Barcelona with my children as a single mum & she stayed in France & then moved back to the UK a few years ago. In 2020 I left my job to go to the UK to be with my mum. We reconnected & grew closer together in our mum-daughter bond as she, without a single complaint, grew weaker and became paralysed down her left side after brain surgery. We eventually swapped roles & I became her “mother” as I learned to navigate paving kerbs with a cumbersome wheelchair, manhandle her to & from bed & tempt her to eat with food made with love.
I felt very alone during my teenage years when, in fact, I really needed a reliable & positive role model. My mum had had me at only 19 so when I was a teen she was a young, newly divorced 35 year old. She discovered her freedom & enjoyed an active social life. She worked hard & played hard & I learned to look elsewhere for a role model to teach me to become a woman. I was fortunate to be very welcome at my best friend’s house & with her & her elder sister, I learned to be a woman from her mum. I really hope my mum didn’t feel alone in her final days.
There are so many ways we can fail our daughters without intending to. Yet, we always do our best. As daughters, we owe it to our mothers to acknowledge that, and to see them as women who brought challenges, obstacles and wounds of their own into their job as our mother. Maybe they made a pig’s ear of it (one of my mum’s expressions), but it is highly likely that they wanted to be a good mother & they did the best they could with the tools they had at the time.
She had regrets & she needed me to tell her that I knew she had done her best before she passed. She left us all letters to open after her passing & in mine she wrote how proud she was of me & that she always wanted the best for me but sometimes she made mistakes.
Our mothers may not have had the tools to heal themselves from any generational patterns passed down from their mothers. They may not have known how to be the best mother to us all the time. But if we can forgive & love & are willing to do the work, then we can heal & be set free.
Dr Rosjke Hasseldine, author of The Mother Daughter Puzzle says that “When a mother-daughter dynamic is strengthened it can be a powerful force against patriarchy.” She goes on to say that “The mother-daughter relationship is absolutely central to generational change because when a mother and daughter come together and learn how to really listen to each other and stand in each other’s shoes, it means that when the daughter has a daughter, it will be different for her. And the next one, and the next one.” (There’s a Reason Why Mother-Daughter Relationships are so Tricky)
My mum talked more about her life in those last 4 months than at any other time. I realised that I knew very little about her. I didn’t know about her dreams as a young girl. Passionate about ballet. I didn’t know of her struggles at school with dyslexia (she was just the dumb girl who sat at the back of class & was ignored by her teachers). I didn’t know of holidays she went on with her parents. I had no idea that she had won awards for hairdressing & that she loved to go dancing with her girlfriends at the local village halls.
“The more a daughter knows the details of her mother’s life
… the stronger the daughter“
– Anita Diamant, The Red Tent
I wish I had known more. I wish we had talked more. No, I wish I had listened more or asked more questions. I feel like it would have helped me understand her as a girl & woman. I feel it would have helped me see her through seeing eyes.
& I know the joy, love, & delight of my relationships with my mother and my daughter. Equally I know the pain, suffering, grief, disappointment & feelings of failure that come hand in hand with being a mother & a daughter. I raise my glass to my mum. I raise my glass to all mothers everywhere.